LANE ONE: Late gold rush gives Team USA best Olympic performance in Asia ever; U.S. rolls up impressive 1,291 points in TSX scoring

The Tokyo 2020 medals (Photo: Tokyo 2020)

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For most of the last week of the Tokyo Games, it appeared that China might edge the U.S. for the most gold medals. Going into the final day, China had 38, equaling its best-ever for a Games held outside the country.

The U.S. had 36, the same number of golds it had won in the three other Games held in Asia, in Tokyo in 1964, in Seoul in 1988 and in Beijing in 2008.

But on Sunday, the U.S. women won the basketball gold, Jennifer Valente came through with a victory in the women’s Omnium in track cycling and the U.S. women’s volleyball team – consistently the best in the world in 2021 – won its first-ever Olympic title to give the U.S. a total of 39 golds, one more than the Chinese.

The final medal totals showed the U.S. with the most golds (39) and the most medals (113), both record totals for an American team in an Olympic Games held in Asia. The medal leaders:

(1) 113 ~ United States (39-41-33)
(2) 88 ~ China (38-32-18)
(3) 71 ~ Russian Olympic Committee (20-28-23)
(4) 65 ~ Great Britain (22-21-22)
(5) 58 ~ Japan (27-14-17)
(6) 46 ~ Australia (17-7-22)
(7) 40 ~ Italy (10-10-20)
(8) 37 ~ Germany (10-11-16)
(9) 36 ~ Netherlands (10-12-14)
(10) 33 ~ France (10-12-11)

The U.S. was expected to lead the overall medal count, but the gold-medal rush at the end was the source of some controversy and political intrigue. But neither the number of gold medals or the total number of medals is a worthy way to evaluate a team’s total performance.

For the second Games in a row, TheSportsExaminer.com has compiled a deeper scoring review, using the top eight places in each event – the same number of places to which the International Olympic Committee confers diplomas – to provide a better all-around view of relative achievement.

As in Rio, the U.S. team came out on top, scoring 1,291.0 points to top China’s 939.7 and 789.5 from the Russian Olympic Committee.

There were 13,221 total points available in Tokyo across the 339 events on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, a scoring system familiar to American track & field fans. It gives extra emphasis to the gold and silver medalists, but also recognizes how close third and fourth often are, and the importance of making the finals in many events.

There were 93 National Olympic Committees that won at least one medal, but 121 of the 206 competing teams, including the Refugee Olympic Team, scored points (58.7%).

Compared to Rio 2016 – with 306 events – the U.S. share of all points available was down (9.76% from 10.73% in its home hemisphere), with China (7.11% from 6.91%) and Russia (5.97% from 5.05%) increasing their shares. Great Britain (5.51% vs. 6.36%) was down a little, as was to be expected two cycles after hosting the Games in 2012. Japan, on the other hand, went wild, with 705.5 points overall (5.34%), vs. 3.62% of the scoring in Rio in 2016.

Here are the audited final totals for all 121 teams scoring at least a point (actually two points) in Tokyo. The number of placements, from 1-8, is also shown for each country and is an excellent further indicator of total team achievement. The U.S., which brought 626 athletes to Tokyo, had a remarkable 230 placements, 73 more than China; nine countries had 100 or more:

The top 10:
1,291.0 points – United States (230 placements 1-8)
939.7 – China (157)
789.5 – Russian Olympic Committee (146)
728.5 – Great Britain (137)
705.5 – Japan (136)
540.0 – Australia (110)
505.5 – Germany (113)
497.0 – Italy (108)
460.0 – France (101)
447.0 – Netherlands (85)

11-20:
336.5 – Canada (75)
287.0 – South Korea (65)
270.0 – Hungary (53)
251.0 – Spain (59)
240.0 – Brazil (51)
221.5 – Ukraine (53)
215.0 – New Zealand (41)
202.5 – Poland (49)
167.0 – Switzerland (36)
152.0 – Turkey (34)

21-30:
145.2 – Cuba (25)
144.5 – Sweden (29)
141.5 – Denmark (30)
124.0 – Chinese Taipei (24)
123.0 – Belgium (26)
119.0 – Czech Republic (20)
117.5 – Kenya (19)
115.0 – Jamaica (23)
96.5 – Georgia (19)
96.5 – Norway (17)

31-40:
95.2 – Belarus (24)
94.0 – Croatia (17)
91.5 – Serbia (17)
90.5 – Mexico (23)
83.0 – Iran (17)
80.5 – Uzbekistan (21)
79.5 – India (18)
76.0 – Slovenia (15)
73.5 – Bulgaria (14)
73.5 – Kazakhstan (19)

41-50:
71.5 – Egypt (20)
70.5 – Israel (19)
69.5 – Austria (15)
69.5 – Romania (18)
68.5 – Ethiopia (15)
68.5 – Hong Kong (15)
68.2 – Greece (17)
58.0 – Colombia (15)
57.5 – Portugal (15)
55.5 – Dominican Republic (13)

51-60:
54.0 – Azerbaijan (10)
52.0 – Indonesia (10)
50.0 – Mongolia (13)
49.7 – Venezuela (10)
49.0 – South Africa (11)
46.0 – Ireland (13)
43.0 – Slovakia (8)
41.0 – Argentina (12)
40.5 – Philippines (7)
40.0 – Uganda (6)

61-70:
37.0 – Ecuador (7)
36.5 – Armenia (8)
35.0 – Latvia (8)
32.0 – Thailand (8)
30.0 – Kyrgyzstan (6)
29.0 – Finland (8)
29.0 – Qatar (4)
28.0 – Lithuania (8)
24.0 – Bahamas (4)
24.0 – Estonia (6)

71-80:
23.5 – Kosovo (4)
21.5 – Cote d’Ivoire (6)
21.0 – Tunisia (3)
20.0 – Malaysia (4)
19.5 – San Marino (3)
19.0 – Nigeria (3)
17.5 – Moldova (7)
16.0 – Fiji (2)
16.0 – Jordan (3)
16.0 – Turkmenistan (3)

81-90:
14.0 – Bahrain (4)
13.0 – Morocco (3)
13.0 – Puerto Rico (2)
12.0 – Saudi Arabia (2)
11.0 – Kuwait (3)
11.0 – Namibia (2)
10.0 – Bermuda (1)
9.0 – Botswana (3)
9.0 – Peru (4)
8.5 – Algeria (3)

91-100:
8.0 – Grenada (2)
8.0 – North Macedonia (1)
8.0 – Pakistan (2)
8.0 – Refugee Olympic Team (3)
7.5 – Burkina Faso (2)
7.5 – Costa Rica (2)
7.5 – Singapore (2)
7.0 – Chile (3)
7.0 – Cyprus (2)
7.0 – Guatemala (2)

101-110:
6.5 – Bosnia-Herzegovina (2)
6.0 – Syria (1)
5.5 – Ghana (1)
5.5 – Vietnam (2)
5.0 – Albania (1)
5.0 – Mozambique (2)
5.0 – British Virgin Islands (1)
5.0 – Suriname (1)
5.0 – Trinidad & Tobago (3)
4.5 – Panama (2)

111-120:
4.0 – Burundi (1)
4.0 – Eritrea (1)
4.0 – Haiti (2)
4.0 – Liberia (1)
4.0 – Montenegro (2)
4.0 – Tonga (2)
3.5 – Cameroon (1)
3.5 – Niger (1)
3.0 – Uruguay (1)
2.5 – Mauritius (1)

121:
2.0 – Tanzania (1)

Long-time reader David Simon, the Vice President/Government Relations for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Games, noted:

“With the exception on Athens (2004) and Rio (2016) every host city, winter and summer, from 1996 to 2032 is from one of [the top] 12 countries. …

“This partly reflects how relatively few countries have ever hosted a Games but also suggests … that [the] top performing countries are among the most eager to host.”

In fact, 14 of the top 15 on the points table from Tokyo have all been Olympic host countries; only Hungary – which wants to bid for a future Games – has not hosted among the top 15.

The total number of scoring countries in Tokyo – 121 – is only modestly better than the number in Rio (119), despite having 33 more events. That’s a cue for more development efforts, especially among the 85 teams which did not place anyone in the top eight in Tokyo.

Rich Perelman
Editor

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